My favored Ruskin Bond story is known as A Crow For All Seasons. My own family and I even have had a few exciting interactions with crows and we have a healthful recognize for them. Way returned in our Kolkata days a traveler-crow had adopted us. It used to return and perch in our Alipore Estates balcony and greet us every morning with raucous bonhomie. It appreciated clean bread and would reject something that even remotely smelt stale. Later whilst our friendship had matured, he once even delivered what we ought to best construe as items – earthworms, portions of rubbish — for he laid them on our window-sill and cawed at us to come back and behold!
Another pair of crows inevitably became playful when one people walked at the terrace in our Allahabad home. They made aerial forays all spherical our heads, wheeling nearer and closer in pairs, alternately dipping and whizzing beyond our ears in apparent pleasure at our wonder. That appears to be a commonplace crow sport. ‘The old one-’ is what Bond calls it. For the crow in his endearing story is a person special, and his story might be variously titled ‘A Day In The Life Of The Uncommon Crow’ or ‘The Universe According To Speedy, The Crow’.
This Speedy is a smart, discursive thinker. His observations on life in fashionable and stupid people (and boorish dogs) in particular are keen and perceptive. Consider the following samples of wry contemplation:
‘This dog… likes to pretend certainly one of his ancestors was the superb (Genghis) Khan’s watchdog – but, as regularly takes place in well-known households, animal and human, there’s a falling off in high-quality over a period of time and this huge fellow – Tiger, they call him – is a working example.’
Or ‘After all, I don’t eat rubbish and throwaways all of the time. Just now and again I like ripe guava or the tender flesh of papaya. And from time to time I just like the ordinary beetle…. Those humans inside the bungalow have to be grateful to me for keeping down the populace of fruit-eating beetles, and even for recycling their refuse; however no, people are in no way thankful.’
Speedy and his much less dynamic cousin, Slow, have claimed this specific bungalow as their territory. A reasonable apportionment of territory with all of the other crows of the region inside the hobbies of peace and accord. Their days pass in outwitting the own family that lives within the bungalow. There is the Colonel Sahib, the sort memsahib, the enemy Junior Sahib, a nephew violently disposed of in the direction of our Speedy, a younger boy hooked on throwing stones and a dog unremarkable for both finesse or practical intelligence. To say nothing of the cook dinner and the gardener. Some throw orange peel, a few throw spades, a few rain stones. But our Speedy is undaunted, mettlesome and upbeat in his dealings with the human race. It isn’t smooth, for he’s often on the receiving give up.
As while nipping in thru a window to assist himself to some meals laid out at the breakfast desk, he accidentally receives his neck caught in a napkin ring. What greater evidence of human idiocy can there be, he reflects, than such an irrelevance as a napkin-ring, however then humans perform a little quite mindless matters. To Speedy, it’s miles a disaster due to the fact his fellow crows outrightly reject his membership in the extended family with the aid of motive of the ring round his neck. Because something extraordinary and out-of-the-field is seldom tolerated, and swarms of crows pounce on him to lynch this stranger. Speedy’s outraged shout is any other gem: ‘You’re similar to a group of awful human beings!… This is simply the manner they create on amongst themselves!’
Mercifully, within the brawl, the serviette ring receives smashed, and the extended family recognizes him as ‘one folk’. Other trials arise. As while the Colonel Sahib, gambling a trick on Speedy, who is given to stealing eggs, locations a ping-pong ball in the basket and Speedy, inside the innocence of his venturesome coronary heart, mistakes it for an egg, carries it away and almost breaks his beak looking to p.C. It open. Most attempting is the Junior Sahib who incorporates a chronic animus towards Speedy and attempts to exterminate him time and again. But Speedy expertly introduces an alternative who receives the pellet from the air gun and gets martyred inside the splendid motive of Confounding The Human Race. Of specific hobby are the Songs Of Speedy The Crow, which intersperse the occasions — for Speedy is a composer and lyricist par excellence. Consider the following high-lively song uttered at the height of elation:
‘I apprehend you want a crow
To poison, shoot or smother;
My fond salaams, but by your depart
I’ll alternative some other;
Allow me then to introduce
My maximum respected brother.’
The grand design of the story is the elevation of a sinner to a saint through virtue of an easy unraveling of sanity in fantasy. The arch-enemy Junior Sahib is thwarted again and again inside the super conflict of excellent as opposed to evil, traumatised with the aid of hordes of assaulting crows who boost the war-cry ‘Carvus Splendens!’ (Latin, no less!) He is pursued mercilessly until, altogether unstrung and annihilated, he’s driven into believing himself a crow, reversing his former antipathy by using turning consumer saint, scattering his largesse on crows in ample measure till he will become a veritable candidate for canonisation.
A pleasant tale and one of Ruskin Bond’s excellent. If A Flight Of Pigeons changed into memorable, this Flight Of A Crow leaves you cawing for extra. Look out for it. I found it in The Complete Stories And Novels Of Ruskin Bond, a Penguin India Tenth Anniversary Commemorative Edition.